Many of us have been suffering from obesity-related disorders and are making conscious efforts to improve our health. People worldwide have started to adopt healthy lifestyle habits with various exercise regimens. A healthy lifestyle has become an important measure to lose weight while preventing the progression of obesity-related disorders. A health orientation starts when one introduces healthy eating habits and moderate exercises. Therefore, sometimes, humble ingredients from our kitchen shelf, such as fennel, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper, help shed extra weight. One such ingredient that helps in weight loss is cumin.
Cumins: An Overview
Cumin is a spice that belongs to the family of apiaceae, a member of the parsley family. Cumin seeds are from the herb Cuminum cyminum. It is a native herb from the East Mediterranean to South Asia. It is aromatic and imparts a nutty and slightly peppery flavour. In addition, it adds an earthy flavour with a hint of dried lemon zest. It is a herb with natural flavouring and seasoning properties.
It is known for its numerous medicinal, nutraceutical, and pharmacological properties. Cumin is popularly used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases. It is rich in bioactive constituents such as terpenes, phenols, and flavonoids. Cumin seeds offer multiple benefits. They have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic properties. Also, they work as an insecticide. In addition, they contain immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, and gastroprotective properties.
Nutritional Content of Cumin:
Cumin is composed of fibre, carbohydrate, fat, sugar, protein, ash, minerals, vitamins, and various volatile compounds. It is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, A, C, K, and B6. When the cumin is grounded or crushed, its cell-matrix breaks down and releases the volatile compounds known as an essential oil. The essential oil of cumin is responsible for flavouring qualities.
The nutritional content of cumin is as follows:
- Water: 8.06 g
- Energy: 375 kcal
- Protein: 17.8 g
- Total Lipid: 22.3 g
- Carbohydrate: 44.2 g
- Fibre: 10.5 g
- Calcium: 931 mg
- Vitamin C: 7.7 mg
- Thiamine: 0.628 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.327 mg
- Niacin: 4.58 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.435 mg
- Folate: 10 µg
- Choline: 24.7 mg
- Vitamin A: 1270 IU
- Beta carotene: 762 µg
- Vitamin E: 3.33 mg
- Vitamin K: 5.4 µg
- SFA: 1.54 g
- MUFA: 14 g
- PUFA: 3.28 g
Cumin Seeds for Weight Loss
While cumin seeds are known for their medicinal properties, it is an excellent home remedy for shedding weight. In addition, it treats obesity and disorders associated with obesity. There are several justifications for how cumin assists in weight loss.
The justifications are as follows:
Boost up Metabolism
Cumin seeds increase the functioning of metabolic processes and improve digestion. It stimulates the activity of digestive and gastric enzymes to metabolise carbohydrates, fat, and glucose. Cumin seeds promotes thermogenesis which increases the breakdown of stored fats. It helps burn calories during activity or at rest by increasing the BMR of the body. It detoxifies and purifies the body by flushing out the toxins.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties
Cumin contains magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, Vitamin E, K, A, C, and B6, which exhibit antioxidant properties. It also contains a chemical compound named thymoquinone, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These antioxidants fight against free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, and prevent cellular damage. In addition, healthy habits and regular exercise helps in decreasing stored fat and reducing inflammation.
Several studies prove that cumin seeds help in weight loss. Some of them are as follows:
- A study of 72 overweight subjects indicated that consuming cumin and lemon with a weight loss regimen significantly increases the weight loss rate.
- In a randomised clinical trial of 88 overweight women, the first group got 3g of cumin powder with yoghurt twice a day, and the other group got yoghurt without cumin powder twice a day for three months. Findings state that cumin powder reduced serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL levels. In addition, there was a significant decrease in weight, BMI, waist circumference, fat mass, and fat percentage in the first group.
Benefits of Cumin
Cumin seeds have been used in Ayurvedic medicines across India since ancient times. Various research has shown the uses of cumin to treat multiple ailments. It contains compounds with antioxidative, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, and hypolipidemic properties. In a nutshell, cumin is a powerhouse of benefits.
Some of the functional benefits of cumin are as follows:
Helps Treat Gastrointestinal Disorders
Cumin seeds have immense medicinal value, specifically for treating digestive disorders such as diarrhoea and dyspepsia. It possesses carminative, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, and antidiarrheal properties and it stimulates the activity of digestive enzymes, which improve the digestion process. Cumin also increases the bile secretion, which helps digest fats and other nutrients present in the gut. It increases the absorption of nutrients in the intestine. It helps relieve gas, which prevents bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, and regurgitation of food.
Research has shown that the administration of cumin seeds in the diet has significantly reduced irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in two weeks. Cumin seeds decrease abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, nausea, painful defecation, and mucus in stool. These are common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Cumin has hypolipidemic properties, which help regulate high fats and cholesterol levels. In addition, studies have shown that incorporating cumin powder into the diet helps reduce cholesterol levels, LDL levels, and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol levels. It improves the ratio of HDL and LDL cholesterol by managing the lipid parameters. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and liver disorders associated with obesity.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Cumin possesses an antidiabetic effect. The intervention of cumin in the diet has shown reduced blood glucose levels, inhibited glycosylated haemoglobin, and improved serum insulin and glycogen levels. A study shows that sub-acute administration of cumin for 8-weeks reduced hyperglycaemia. It also reduced glucosuria with decreased urea and creatinine excretion. As a result, there was a significant improvement in body weight. Hyperlipidaemia is associated with diabetes mellitus. Oral administration of cumin has notably reduced the body weight, plasma and tissue cholesterol. In addition, it lessened phospholipids, free fatty acids, and triglycerides.
Cumin seeds also possess anticarcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-stress qualities. It also offers memory enhancing, immunological, bronchodilator, anti-osteoporotic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects. In addition, it has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Therefore, cumin reduces the risk of foodborne diseases. Furthermore, it is a good source of calcium, which helps increase bone density and delay the progression of osteoporosis.
Different Ways of Using Cumin
Cumin seeds have a warm, earthy flavour, with a hint of both sweetness and bitterness. Cumin has been a regular in various Indian and Mexican cuisines from ancient times. You can use it in stir-fried dishes, curries, salads, soups, baked products, marinades, and snacks. It complements both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes.
Some of the following recipes which help in weight loss are:
- Cumin Seeds: 1-2 tsp
- Water: 1 glass
- Honey: 1 tsp (optional)
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of cumin seeds to a glass of water and soak them overnight.
- Drink the water on an empty stomach every morning.
- Add a spoon of honey for a taste. However, it is optional.
- Cumin Seeds: 1-2 tsp
- Water: 1 glass
- Lemon: 1
- Honey: 1 tsp (Optional)
- Add one teaspoon of cumin seeds to the water.
- Don’t boil the water as it can lead to loss of nutrients.
- Add a spoonful of honey for added taste.
- Drink the tea twice a day.
Cumin Seed Sherbet
- Cumin Powder: 1-2 tsp
- Water: 500ml
- Lemon: 1
- Honey: 1 tsp (Optional)
- Fennel Seed Powder: ½ tsp
- Mint Leaves (Crushed): 4-5
- Basil Leaves (Crushed): 4-5
- Cinnamon Powder: A pinch
- Black Salt: A pinch
- Ice Cubes: Optional
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of cumin seed powder and half tsp fennel seed powder in 500-600 ml of water and soak them overnight. Strain the water in the morning
- Add crushed mint and basil leaves with lemon juice and cinnamon powder in the strained water.
- Add honey and black salt as per taste preference in the water and stir well.
- Serve it cold.
How to Include Cumin to Expedite Weight Loss
Cumin in Breakfast
Breakfast provides energy for the day and kick starts metabolism. It keeps you fuller for longer. Skipping breakfast may lead to consuming more calories as you feel more hungry. It is ideal to consume a high-protein breakfast if you’re trying to lose weight. Instead of regular tea or coffee, pair food with a glass of warm water, sprinkle some roasted and ground cumin powder and add a dash of lemon. It works as a cooler in summer, when you may skip the warm water part.
Have it as a Filler
Eating regular meals prevents hunger pangs. It encourages self-control and keeps you energised. Also, it boosts metabolism. have a bowl of curd with cumin powder or a green smoothie with cumin powder as a mini-meal or a filler between meals.
Consume it with High Fibre Foods
It is ideal to consume high fibre foods to keep you fuller. Some foods high in fibre include berries, beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts, etc.
Take a bowl, add some berries, cubed cucumber, chopped onion, mixed seeds, sea salt, lime and cumin powder and make your own Buddha bowl.
Other Important Tips
Drink Adequate Water
Drinking water half an hour before a meal reduces hunger. Accordingly, it results in a lesser calorie intake. Keep a bottle handy and add cumin powder, lime and some rock salt to the water. Then, you have a healthy and tasty drink at your disposal.
Manage Stress and Sleep Properly
High-stress levels can increase cortisol in your body. It is responsible for the build-up of belly fat. Also, lack of sleep disrupts appetite-regulating hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. Consequently, you feel hungrier and crave foods high in sugar, fat, and calories. Thus, adequate sleep and stress management are essential for weight loss.
Sometimes, our sleep quality disrupts because we eat late or feel bloated. Having a glass of water with cumin powder will help reduce uneasiness.
Possible Side Effects of Cumin
Cumin seeds are generally nontoxic and safe to consume. In terms of individuality, fennel seeds might cause side effects for some people. Even though cumin seeds have multiple health benefits, cumin can sometimes cause heartburn despite the widely known fact about its gas relieving properties. It has carminative properties, which sometimes cause excessive belching or burping. Occasionally belching can have a foul odour and weird sound. Excessive belching is one of the symptoms associated with digestive disorders such as gastrointestinal reflux disease. The essential oils present in cumin seeds are highly volatile compounds. If you consume cumin seeds in excess, they can cause liver or kidney damage in extreme cases.
Cumin seeds exhibit narcotic properties, which cause mental clouding, drowsiness, and nausea. Therefore, it is essential to consume cumin seeds with caution. In addition, cumin seeds have anti-diabetic properties that control blood sugar levels. Consuming cumin seeds and diabetic medicine together can lower blood sugar levels, which leads to hypoglycemia. Therefore, it is prudent to consume cumin seeds in moderation. Taking extra doses to get rapid results may not ultimately benefit you.
Some studies have proven that cumin seeds suppress testosterone levels, interfering with sperm motility and fertility. In addition, cumin administration can trigger miscarriage in some cultural practices.
Cumin seeds are nutritionally rich spices. However, it is used in Asian and Indian cuisines primarily for culinary and medicinal purposes. Not all studies have shown this benefit, and one may need higher doses for weight loss. Using cumin as a spice increases antioxidant intake, promotes digestion, prevents anaemia, improves blood sugar control, and may reduce foodborne illnesses. Though cumin has many evidence-based health benefits, some have been known since ancient times, while others are under research. Administrating cumin seeds in a weight loss regimen with regular exercise has shown significant improvements in weight loss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Does cumin make things spicy?
A. No, cumin seeds have a more defined nutty and peppery flavour. Cumin seeds have a strong earthy and slightly spicy flavour. It has an exciting aroma with hints of lemon peel. Besides, it adds punch to bland dishes like raita, chaas, curries, chatnis and snack items.
Q. Is cumin the same as cinnamon?
A. No, Cumin and cinnamon are different herbs and spices. While cumin belongs to the family Apiaceae, cinnamon belongs to the family Lauraceae. Cumin is a fragrant, long seed used as a spice in Indian and Mexican cuisine. At the same time, cinnamon is an aromatic bark of a cinnamon tree found in Sri Lanka and Southern India.
Q. Can turmeric be substituted for cumin?
A. No, turmeric cannot be used as a substitute for cumin even though turmeric has the same warmth and has a nutty, earthy flavour as cumin. But adding turmeric in place of cumin will affect the colour and presentation of the recipe because it has a different taste and a bright yellow colour.
Q. Can I drink cumin water every day?
A. Yes, drinking cumin water daily is beneficial as it cleanses and detoxifies the body while keeping it hydrated. There are no significant side effects, but people with blood sugar should avoid it as it can cause hypoglycemic conditions.
Q. Can too much cumin hurt you?
Cumin is generally considered safe and nontoxic, even in larger doses. But cumin is known to have narcotic properties meaning taking too much cumin can cause drowsiness, nausea, and mental clouding. However, 1.5-3 g of cumin is safe to consume by mouth.
Q. Is cumin good for the skin?
A. Yes, Cumin is good for the skin. It exhibits antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help clear acne and prevent future breakouts. Cumin also prevents premature ageing and wrinkles and provides a glow to the skin. It also detoxifies the skin by flushing out toxins from the body.
Q. When should we drink jeera water?
A. It is safe to drink 1-2 glasses of cumin water. The best time to drink cumin water is in the morning with an empty stomach or at night after dinner to aid digestion. In addition, it keeps heartburn, bloating, and acid reflux at bay.
Q. Which is better: cinnamon or cumin?
A. cumin contains iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B1, B2, while cinnamon contains more manganese and fibre. Cumin provides 726% iron which is more than recommended daily doses. Cumin has five times less manganese than cinnamon.
Q. What spice can I use in place of ground cumin?
A. various spices substitute ground cumin, such as caraway seeds, coriander seeds, and chilli powder. In contrast, caraway seeds and coriander seeds are milder than cumin. Still, they have the same nutty taste and distinctive citrus and earthy flavour. On the other hand, Chilli powder flavour is way stronger than cumin.
Q. Does cumin need to be refrigerated?
A. To avoid the formation of mould spores in spices, they should be kept away from moisture. They need to be stored in cool, dark, dry places away from sunlight. There’s no need to store cumin in the refrigerator. Instead, keep them in an airtight container they will stay fresh for 3-4 years.